Performance into research that has been conducted on


Performancefailure is an important part of the field of sport psychology. In this executivesummary the 1908 Yerkes and Dodson (inverted U theory) in ‘choking’ will be closelylooked at and to see why it is of interests to the researchers in sport andexercise psychology.

Choking can happen any time and in any sport. It has been difficultfor researchers to come up with a real definition for it. Different definitionsof choking have been proposed in the sport psychology literature over the last30 years by sport anxiety researchers. Beaumiester (1984) has defined choking as”performance decrements under pressure situations”. It is performing morepoorly than expected giving one’s skill level in a certain situation. Chokingis an interest to sport psychology as it can change a match completely. Chokingunder pressure has a huge impact on a match situation.

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It can also havepsychological damaging effects on the athlete. There can be many differentreasons that cause athletes to decrease performance, it can be caused by aninjury or slump. It has been researchedby a number of researchers around the world. Different theories weremade to understand how and why a choke may happen in a sports game.Thepurpose of this executive summary is to review the literature relating tochoking in sport and highlight the significance of it to the field of sport andexercise psychology. By critically reviewing the research, the mechanisms andpotential moderators of choking under pressure in sport will be examined.

The directionfor future research that address such concerns will be recommended. This willbe achieved by looking into research that has been conducted on choking insport in research papers and journals and compare the different articles and tosee why it is of interest to the field of sport and exercise psychology. A fullunderstanding of the phenomenon is necessary to prevent its occurrence andenable athletes to achieve under pressure situations. Main Body: Mechanismsof ChokingTherehas been a lot of research on performance failures and how choking in sporthappens and why it can happen. Researchers have come up with many theories ofchoking in sport. Theories that havebeen proposed to explain why athletes choke under pressure.

There are the ‘drive’theories and ‘attentional’ theories’. Drive theories consist of the ‘cuspcatastrophe model’ and the ‘inverted U model’. Attentional theories include ‘distractiontheories’ which consists of the ‘Processing Efficiency Theory’ – and the ‘Self-Focused Theories’ which consists of the ‘Explicit Monitoring Hypothesis’ and ‘ConsciousnessProcessing Hypothesis’. Yerkes & Dodson(1908)Theinverted U is a ‘drive’ theory used for research on choking in sport. Researchstarted in 1908 with the Yerkes-Dodson effect, often termed the inverted- Umodel (Tenenbaum, G. & Eklund, R. 2007).

It says that intermediate levelsof drive (anxiety) will cause optimal performance and a high or low level of drivewill cause performance deterioration. However, it does not explain why someathletes who do have high drive and still perform well. It also fails toexplain the process of choking.

There is also a lack of predictive utility. Another variant of the inverted-U model isHardy’s (1996) cusp catastrophe model (CCM). The catastrophe and inverted-Umodels are similar in that both predict that increases in arousal willfacilitate performance to a certain degree. The cusp catastrophe theory can bedefined as “A catastrophic drop in performance will occur when levels ofcognitive anxiety and physiological arousal are both high” (Hardy, 1996).Vickersand Williams (2007) did some research using the catastrophe theory and foundout that high levels of cognitive anxiety and of physiological arousal did leadto choking of some athletes, but not in others.

 Exampleof choking in sport: John Terry’s penalty miss in the Champions League finalin 2008.Chelseaand Manchester united featured in the UEFA Champions League final in 2008. The gamefinished in a 1-1 draw leading to a penalty shootout.

The Chelsea captain JohnTerry had a chance to seal the victory for Chelsea. He went to take the penaltyaimed right and slipped and hit the post. Manchester united went on to win thepenalty shootout and win the Champions league due to Terry’s choke.Whentaking a penalty kick in football choking can be missing the target completelyor hitting the target but not to any of the sides or not with much power on thekick. Some people thing just hitting the target is not a choke but anyone canhit the target if they really tried, it’s the accuracy of hitting it away fromthe keeper so the keeper cannot save it from going into the goal. Moderatorsof choking in sport:Traitanxiety and Self-confidence – High trait anxiety and low self-confidenceathletes are liable to choke (Baumeister et al., 1985) through both distractionand self-focus mechanisms.

Skilllevel and Task property – Novices are more likely to choke due to distraction,while expert athletes as result of self-focus. A complex task with declarativeproperties will be more vulnerable to distraction, while a more procedural oneis vulnerable to self-focus.Presenceof an audience – Recognised influence but need research to clarify if effect ispositive or negative.

Increased anxiety vs “home advantage”. Athletesdon’t like having all the pressure on them or the weight of the team on thembecause it caused a lot of stress on them which leads to having anxiety levelsincrease to high which then links to ‘choking’.ChokingIn sports usually occurs during a competition, in between a big match or duringa vital moment in a game regardless of how well trained the athlete was priorto the event.  Conclusion: Choking is caused when an athlete’s performancedrops in a game or tournament which they are strongly favoured to win, or in aninstance where they are leading by large amount and then they start losing inthe late stages on the event. Choking under pressure can be a very seriousproblem for skilled athletes. A single instance of choking can mark the end ofa previously successful career.Choking is an important phenomenon thatattracts attention from sport researchers and coaches and players and even fansof the sport.

Choking under pressure is an individualphenomenon so future research examining performance across high and lowpressured situations is needed with the same athlete.It is not clear from past research howfrequently choking under pressure actually occurs in high- level athletes andwhat situations tend to increase the probability of such occurrences. There isstill much more work to be done by researchers that will benefit coaches andathletes. References: ·        Allen, M. andMcCarthy, P. (2014). Sportpsychology. Harlow U.

A.: Pearson Education Limited.·        Tenenbaum, G. andEklund, R.

(2007). Handbook of sport psychology. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley. 3rdEdition.

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